‘Final Warning’ Not To Touch Monarchy in Censure Debate

Pro-democracy activist Intira "Sai" Charoenpura waves a flag during a rally to call for the abolition of lese majeste law on Feb. 10, 2021.

BANGKOK — Deputy leader of the ruling Phalang Pracharath Party Paiboon Nititawan said Wednesday he will file a court challenge if the opposition invokes the monarchy during the upcoming censure debate.

Paiboon’s warning is the latest backlash from the pro-establishment faction to the Move Forward Party’s bid to discuss the government’s role in “damaging the good relations between the monarchy and the public” when the Parliament meets for the debate on Feb. 16. Move Forward is also pushing for a reform of the royal insult law, or lese majeste.

“The no-confidence debate is about politics. If there is an intention to get the monarchy involved, I’ll take action. This is my final warning,” Paiboon said by phone. “If they mention [the monarchy], I will pursue actions in all available channels, and I won’t stop at the Constitutional Court.”

The lawmaker said he’s planning to file a legal challenge to the motion, per Article 6 of the Constitution, which states that His Majesty the King must be revered and held inviolable by all Thais.

Paiboon conceded however that it’s likely too late to submit his challenge; the censure debate is set to take place less than a week from now. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said he has yet to receive any motion from Paiboon.

Chuan also confirmed the debate will go ahead on Tuesday, Feb. 16, as scheduled by the Parliament, though he said his staff is looking into legal details about the possibilities of the monarchy being discussed during the session.

Move Forward Party sec-gen Chaitawat Tulathon said earlier this month that some its MPs will discuss the lese majeste offense when they take the floor during the censure debate. Chaitawat also hinted that the calls by street protests for monarchy reforms may also be mentioned.

The party’s motion to amend the lese majeste law was submitted and endorsed by 44 of its MPs on Wednesday; nine refused to sign.

They were Karom Polpornklang (Party List), Win Suteerachai (Party List), Kasemsan Meethip (Party List), Wanwaree Talomsin (Bangkok), Tossaporn Thongsiri (Bangkok), Jirawat Aranyakanon (Bangkok), Kwanlert Panichmat (Chonburi), Ekkapop Pianpiset (Chiang Rai), and Peeradet Kamsamut (Chiang Rai).